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View Full Version : Thanks, but no thanks.



EmmaMac
04-15-2005, 09:22 PM
I'm curious to know how you handle refusing business when the price you're being offered is too low.

I was just asked to do a fairly decent amount of editing within one day - about 50 pages needed by 5 p.m. or sooner - for just $10 per hour. This would mean pushing aside all other projects on my plate in favor of this one, and being compensated less than 1/3 what I usually make for a similar job.

I try to be polite when refusing work (not that it happens that often), but the person who asked me to do it got really nasty when I quoted them what I thought was a fairly modest price for a freelancer in my area. He said my rate was highway robbery and that I ought to be ashamed to ask for $35 per hour, which would have included pretty dense copyediting, technical edits and fact-checking. I responded with a very carefully worded e-mail explaining that he was expecting me to put aside all my projects and clients for the day in favor of his work, and that he had contacted me because of my expertise in a particular subject matter.

He has yet to respond, but I'm curious: how do other writers respond to people like this, and is $35 really an indecent per-hour rate to ask for a rush job? It's my understanding that $35 is actually a pretty standard freelance rate where I work, but this guy just isn't buying it.

inkslinger
04-16-2005, 12:24 AM
$35 per hour is, actually, a pretty LOW rate for a rush job with 24-hour turnaround. On my website, I clearly spell out the definition of a "rush" job and note it incurs a 50% additional fee. So far, no one who has needed a rush job has balked at that.

One solution might have been for you to refer him to another freelancer. I have a couple of relationships with other writers/editors to whom I can send work if I'm too busy for a job. Depending on the situation, I either send the client directly to my associates, or I take the work myself and send it to them. Basically, if the work is coming from someone with whom I have a relationship, I take the work and then farm it out to a writer friend. If it's a job for someone I don't know, I may just refer them to my friend directly.

If you handled this person with diplomacy, bravo for you. It's not always easy being in a service business.

Elizabeth

Rose
04-16-2005, 01:25 AM
I second the motion on $35 being a pretty low rate. I do NOT live in a metropolis, but even here freelance rates for corporate clients range from about $50/hour up to $125/hour and more. Most of the freelancers I know personally routinely charge between $65 and $85/hour.

I hope throwing numbers up here isn't crass! I just think freelancers need to know we are valuable, and deserve the money we earn.

awatkins
04-16-2005, 01:40 AM
I try to be polite when refusing work (not that it happens that often), but the person who asked me to do it got really nasty when I quoted them what I thought was a fairly modest price for a freelancer in my area. He said my rate was highway robbery and that I ought to be ashamed to ask for $35 per hour, which would have included pretty dense copyediting, technical edits and fact-checking.

He's not going to find anybody to do it for the price he wants to pay. After he makes a few phone calls, he'll find that out! Good for you for sticking to your decision.

EmmaMac
04-16-2005, 01:45 AM
I don't think throwing numbers up is crass at all! I really appreciate it actually.

A lot of my clients are non-profits, and I usually charge them on the low end. My higher-end corporate clients, especially the really big ones, pay a LOT more for my work, but I'm usually willing to make a deal for a smaller business, which this guy is. However, I figured that if he IS running the business himself, I sincerely doubt he'd ever agree to be paid as low as $10 for his services, which was why I was so confused about his reaction when I named the rate I did, especially when I felt I was being really generous.

I wound up referring him to someone I know who freelances part-time and would be glad to have the business, but this was one of those situations where I was almost reluctant to do so, if only because I don't want to encourage people to work for such a low rate.

I've only been at this for a little over a year, but I've already learned that people assume that business writing is something anyone can do. It's just not true.

Thanks for your replies. Whenever I get such a snide response to my work, it makes me doubt myself, even if I know the other person is being unreasonable.

Moondancer
04-16-2005, 05:18 PM
I've only been at this for a little over a year, but I've already learned that people assume that business writing is something anyone can do. It's just not true.



I get a lot of the same in my line of work but if it was something anybody can do, he wouldn't have been calling you would he? He would have just thrown it to his secretary or another underling.

EmmaMac
04-18-2005, 11:34 PM
He's not going to find anybody to do it for the price he wants to pay. After he makes a few phone calls, he'll find that out! Good for you for sticking to your decision.

When you're right, you're right. I just got an e-mail from him asking me to do the edits for my stated price. I'm still considering - I could really use the money, but I'm not sure I'm all that keen on working with him since he was such a jerk earlier.

Good Word
04-23-2005, 04:50 PM
How did it turn out, Emma? What did you decide to do?

EmmaMac
04-26-2005, 02:59 AM
How did it turn out, Emma? What did you decide to do?

I tried to decline, but the client called and apologized profusely, then asked me to take it. I don't have any major projects for another week or two, so I agreed; however, there have so far been a few major problems with the documents (meaning, they sent the work to me and have decided they want to send me different copies because they don't like what they sent, then he reamed out a subordinate in an e-mail that he copied me on). So, all progress on the project has been held up, and after the e-mail I received dressing down his employee, I'm pretty sure this'll be one of those projects that teaches me to trust my gut instincts more, but I hope I'm wrong.

Oh, well. I've agreed to do the work, so I have to hold up my end of the bargain. Thanks for asking - I'll let you know of any more crazy things that happen. At this point, it seems inevitable that something will happen.

I feel terrible for the person this guy reamed out in that e-mail. Even if he were to offer to pay me $100 an hour, such behavior makes me question the future quality of this relationship.

Rose
04-26-2005, 05:02 AM
Even if he were to offer to pay me $100 an hour, such behavior makes me question the future quality of this relationship.
Emma! In the name of freelancers everywhere, stand up for what you're worth! This client/madman has an anger management problem. People like him get their way by yelling and intimidating others, but not you. He tried to get you to work for a ridiculously low rate, but you held your ground - aha! You got 'im. He's proved himself to be a difficult client, so the next time he calls you simply say, sweet as pie, "I just raised my rates last week. It's now $150 hour." No, no - find out what the highest end rate is in your town and charge THAT. If he yells and says no way, whatever. You don't want to work for him anyway. If he calls back, well, you're looking at a nice pile of green.

Just my two timid cents.

EmmaMac
04-26-2005, 07:10 PM
Emma! In the name of freelancers everywhere, stand up for what you're worth! This client/madman has an anger management problem. People like him get their way by yelling and intimidating others, but not you. He tried to get you to work for a ridiculously low rate, but you held your ground - aha! You got 'im. He's proved himself to be a difficult client, so the next time he calls you simply say, sweet as pie, "I just raised my rates last week. It's now $150 hour." No, no - find out what the highest end rate is in your town and charge THAT. If he yells and says no way, whatever. You don't want to work for him anyway. If he calls back, well, you're looking at a nice pile of green.

Just my two timid cents.

Don't worry - I more than doubled my rate. This guy is not only an ass, he's also even later than he previously thought he'd be. And since it'll now be even later until I get the work, and I'm starting a big project next week, I'll be busting my butt and working considerable overtime to do this if I wind up doing it. I still haven't gotten a response yet. I'm half hoping he'll stomp off in a huff and leave me alone.

Of course, the other half of me hopes that he'll agree because then, like you said, I'll be sitting on a pretty pile of cash. Which I find absolutely wonderful - I spent almost all year last year broke. Not only did I get married and lose a lot paying for part of our wedding, last year was my first in business for myself. I netted so very little, yet this year I've already exceeded my estimated monetary needs (which were admittedly pretty meager, but far more aggressive than last year's) and have had to make a revised budget.

wardmclark
04-29-2005, 03:57 AM
He has yet to respond, but I'm curious: how do other writers respond to people like this, and is $35 really an indecent per-hour rate to ask for a rush job? It's my understanding that $35 is actually a pretty standard freelance rate where I work, but this guy just isn't buying it.

Is he a regular client of yours?

You're a lot more polite than me. I'd have been tempted to tell him to go piss up a rope.

Featurewriter
04-30-2005, 03:50 AM
I agree, Emma - next time, go with your gut. (!)

Rose is correct about his anger. This client "buys" victims for free. In other words, he hires people to do tasks (money paid for labor returned). Then he beats them up (abuse inflicted, no compensation to victim).

He's getting two for the price of one.

Dump his ass. He's not worth two THOUSAND dollars an hour.

________________________________

Next time, I suggest that you might want to clarify your agreement and impose deadlines of your own. I had a gut feeling about a recent client. She didn't hold up her end, missed the deposit deadline, meanwhile sent flaming emails and promised to make my life hell. Once the deadline came with no concrete business action on her end, I sent an email and said, in effect, "I'm sorry but things have backed up here and I will not be able to return to your project for at least two months. I'll understand if you need to replace me. Thanks for your interest."

SilverStarSeven
04-30-2005, 09:26 PM
Wow. My rates are $20/hour (and that on Guru.com). My hat is off to y'all for getting business. Anyhow, even though FW has it right in that the guy gets to abuse you for nothing, money does talk; raising your rates to compensate for emotional suffering is probably the best way, IMHO.

~Sss

Featurewriter
05-13-2005, 03:28 AM
Wow. raising your rates to compensate for emotional suffering is probably the best way, IMHO.

Sure ... if you're in the business of providing emotional suffering!

EmmaMac
05-15-2005, 02:45 AM
Hey, all! Thought I'd give you an update. After corresponding with the guy for a few days, trying to get a copy of the file I was supposed to work on, I told the clown that I was no longer available. He huffed off into oblivion and I haven't heard from him since. Good riddance!

wardmclark
05-15-2005, 10:09 PM
Hey, all! Thought I'd give you an update. After corresponding with the guy for a few days, trying to get a copy of the file I was supposed to work on, I told the clown that I was no longer available. He huffed off into oblivion and I haven't heard from him since. Good riddance!

Agree. You don't need clients like that.

wardmclark
05-15-2005, 10:13 PM
Wow. My rates are $20/hour (and that on Guru.com). My hat is off to y'all for getting business. Anyhow, even though FW has it right in that the guy gets to abuse you for nothing, money does talk; raising your rates to compensate for emotional suffering is probably the best way, IMHO.

~Sss

My rates start at $50 an hour, but I do more than just writing; I specialize in quality systems and regulatory affairs documents for medical manufacturers. So,while a large part of my service is writing procedures, I also set up quality systems and document control systems for the medical device industry.

So my rates take all that into account. At that, I'm one of the cheapest quality/regulatory consultants in the industry, mostly because my overhead is almost non-existent; most of the big consulting agencies start at $100-$125 an hour.

The moral of the story? It's a lot easier to make a living in this game if you're already a subject matter expert, and have a niche market you can exploit.